Monday, February 26, 2001
Dear Bilqis, Aslam o luikum,
This is not easy for me to say, but I am struggling to change myself and nothing seems to be helping. My husband is a wonderful man, an ideal man. The problem lies within me. I lose my patience and temper very quick and that's when things start going terribly wrong. I can't help being the way I am. The way I am has a lot to do with my childhood. Please don't ignore this email. Is there something you can suggest?
I know how much Islam stresses that a woman should be obedient to her husband and should not disrespect him but I can't seem to control my anger which is making our lives miserable. I've tried everything and nothing helps. I will be so thankful to you and will be waiting for a reply anxiously. Allah hafiz.
You have taken the most important step toward overcoming your anger - acknowledging the problem. Any type of recovery or lifestyle change requires, first and foremost, a recognition of the problem. Islam does prescribe certain things to help one overcome the problem of anger.
First, there is advice from the Prophet Muhammad (saw):
"The strong man (or woman) is not the good wrestler, the strong man (or woman) is the one who controls himself when he is angry." (Bukhari and Muslim)
The point here is that anger is a very powerful emotion and so the truly "strong" person is the one who can control his or her anger. The degree of anger can differ from person to person. It often depends on patterns of behaviour developed in childhood, as you have realized with yourself. A pattern of not controlling one's anger but allowing oneself to be controlled by the anger has developed. This pattern of behavior has to be "un-learned". It usually requires hard work spiritually and emotionally to overcome old habits, but for the sake of yourself and your marriage you realize that it must be done, otherwise, it will truly be a hindrance to your spiritual development. Here also, the Prophet (saw) has given us advice:
"When one of you becomes angry while standing, he should sit down. If the anger leaves him, well and good; otherwise he should lie down."(Ahmad and Tirmidhi)
This is meant literally! You are going to have to become very watchful of yourself, i.e. the things that cause you to become angry, and the sensations you experience that let you know the anger is rising in you so that you can either sit or lay down to curb the rising anger.
You should begin to look at the anger as a separate entity from yourself and know that you have the power within you to vanquish it. Also, think of how badly you feel after acting angrily to your husband or someone else and commit yourself to overcoming the angry response so that you can experience the great feeling that Allah (swt) will bless you with for not responding in anger.
Dear sister, there are other means for you to explore. This is essentially a spiritual problem that needs spiritual medicine. I would also strongly suggest that you search out a learned and well respected Muslim in your area if possible. Perhaps the Imam of the nearby community, but most importantly a Muslim you feel can sincerely help you with this problem. It has been my experience, that usually an Imam has a spiritual teacher or guide (Sheikh) who is qualified to give advice on higher spiritual matters. I have known of cases where anger was a serious problem and the sister received this type of help and was able to truly change her character for the better.
I pray that you will seriously commit yourself to this undertaking and that with the grace and mercy of Allah you will be successful. The most important thing is to never give up no matter how discouraged you become for this is when the shaytan wins and we lose. As long as you strive to overcome this, Allah is with you in your struggle. Remember, that after every difficulty there comes relief, and that when we walk toward Allah, He runs toward us. There is no might and no strength except in Allah. Allow Him to be your strength. My prayers and best wishes to you.